Abers having a dig?
A tonque in cheek comment maybe - but if you meet the man, you will know that he tends to say what he thinks.
As for competitions, well again Abers is 'your man' for them, and exhibitions as well. Abers taught me the invaluable part about competitions - that results can be highly unpredictable. Having enjoyed a few discussions on competitions, and engaged in submissions at a photography club in Horsham, I soon realised that only reseraching the judge(s) and what they like to see - followed by producing an image in that style - is likely to enocurage favourable results.
On this forum though, the judges are our peers. That means our picture gets judged for its worth on a multitude of ideals - the appeal of the image, the quality of processing, the interpretation of the comp theme, the technical correctness of the image and so on. In other words, the result really is in the lap of the gods. Sometimes you can see in an entry and know almost immediately that it is most likely to be the winner, other times you struggle, but that's the fun of it.
For me, the competition improves my photography in that it forces me to think outside the box.
But the thing that has had the biggest impact on my photography is other photographers - especially those I have gone on shoots with. Put 10 photographers in a location and tell them to spend a day getting shots and see what they come up with. Those on here who know me well enough know I've been on plenty of meet ups and arranged a a few as well. What I learned from those meets was 'how did i miss that?" as i looked at the great shots produced by the others present at the meet.
Those people with whom I've shot with include Carol (Sarasocke), Eileen, Sandy, Jonathan, Abers, Irvin, Martin to name but a few. All still listed as members even if not as active as they once were. Almost every one of those has a different interest in photography and it was those differences which taught me to open my eyes and see things differently.
The weekly comp produces a similar scenario without the sticky buns, cups of tea and ragging over having inferior kit and other social interactions. And like those meet up of olds - it is not a requirement of membership to enter or attend. It is a way of pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zone and learning to think outside the box.
Join in or not, it's not compulsory - but enjoy it for what it is.